Three years have passed since Chargers running back Melvin Gordon, then with Wisconsin, ran for an NCAA-record 408 yards against Collins' Nebraska squad.
"Oh it was horrible," the Cowboys defensive tackle said Tuesday after practice of facing Gordon. "It was horrible. One was awful - juking second to [none]. He ran for what, 408? He broke the NCAA record on us."
Gordon's four-touchdown performance, during which he averaged over 16 yards a carry, isn't his NFL norm. He fell just 3 yards short of 1,000 last season. A sore shoulder, sore foot and knee pain a have hampered him further this year.
Still, he's run for 633 yards, put up two 100-yard games and scored five touchdowns on the ground. Gordon put up 80 yards and a score on 20 carries in the Chargers' 54-24 win over the Bills on Sunday.
Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said Gordon's injury-hampered stats don't reflect his ability.
"When he puts his pads down and runs behind his pads, he's hard to tackle," said Lynn, a former Cowboys running backs coach. "He's a violent, a physical runner. ... When he feels good, he's an elite back in this league no doubt about it."
A violent, physical back isn't what the Cowboys defense wants to see right now. Defensive captain Sean Lee will miss Thursday's matchup as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury. The Cowboys defense has allowed 181 rushing yards a game when missing Lee compared to 87.7 with the veteran linebacker.
Collins said his line will need the run defense to step up to create pressure on Philip Rivers. "Stop the run," he repeated five times Tuesday, will make-or-break Thursday's defense.
If not, Gordon could be in line for his third 100-yard game.
Collins knows what 100 yards - and 408 yards - of Gordon feels like. He doesn't want to relive it.
Source: Sports Day | Jori Epstein | November 20, 2017